Tribunal: Masebo had powers to cancel hunting concessions – Mumba Malila

Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo
Sylvia Masebo

ATTORNEY General Mumba Malila has said Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo had executive powers to cancel the 19 hunting concessions at the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) in the absence of the Board of directors.
Mr Malilla said the President delegates executive functions to line ministers to discharge executive powers on his behalf.
Mr Malila, who yesterday appeared as a subpoenaed witness in the ongoing Tribunal constituted to probe Ms Masebo’s alleged interference in the operations of ZAWA, said the President had powers to delegate his executive functions to a minister in an event that there was no Board in place.
In October 2011, Mr Sata, using his executive powers, dissolved the then ZAWA Board saying it had caused suffering in the lives of some Zambians.
Mr Sata said he would ensure that the Authority was investigated to have knowledge of issues concerning it.
Mr Malila yesterday told the Tribunal chaired by acting Supreme Court Judge Rhoyda Kaoma that in an event that there was no board in place, the President had powers to delegate his executive functions to a line ministry and a minister could do the work on his behalf.
This is in a matter in which former Communications and Transport minister William Harrington has petitioned acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to set up a Tribunal to probe Ms Masebo’s alleged interference in the operations of ZAWA.
He told Ms Justice Kaoma, who sat with two members – Livingstone High Court Judge-in charge Ernest Mukulamutiyo and Lusaka High Court Judge Chalwe Mchenga, that a minister could announce cancellation of a tender even if she/he was not the one who cancelled it.
Mr Malila said as a political head of a ministry and in an event that there was serious indiscipline under her/his ministry, the minister would not fold hands without taking corrective steps.
He said there was nothing sinister for a minister to announce an appointment or a position, but he was not sure on the role of the minister in the termination of employment.
Mr Malila, who described the hunting concessions as a procurement, said this was so because the Zambia Public Procurement Act does not give a minister a visible role in any procurement process.
He said the minister could only play an invisible role and was supposed to always consult with his office before they commit Government to any decisions likely to cause legal considerations by Cabinet or Cabinet committees.
Mr Malila explained to the Tribunal that he recalled former ZAWA Board chairperson Larry Kalala calling him while he was in South Africa on his way to Mozambique asking him whether a minister had powers to cancel a tender and his response was in the negative.
He said Mr Kalala, however, did not give him the background to the issue he was consulting him over the phone and never made any further follow-ups when he returned to Zambia.
Mr Harrington has since closed his case and Ms Masebo would open her defence today.